INTX: How a Show Changes

The upcoming INTX Show in Chicago reflects an industry- wide shift in more ways than one, with some major alterations to the layout of the show floor, the make-up of industry sessions and the overall atmosphere of the annual get together.

INTX: The Internet and Television Expo — formerly The Cable Show — is returning to Chicago’s McCormick Place May 5-7 for the first time since 2011. And as the name of the conference has changed, so too has the event.

“There will be change on the exhibit floor, you’ll see change in the sessions — who’s speaking and how they are planned — and you’ll see change in people’s badges who are walking around with you, because we did a lot of outreach outside of the cable industry,” said Barbara York, senior vice president of industry affairs at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which sponsors the confab. “There will be a very different conversation, a very different feel. I think the energy will be different.”

Some of that energy may be emanating from the General Session stage, where Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, who last Friday (April 24) decided to abandon his $67 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, is scheduled to be part of a May 5 panel discussion with Chernin Group chairman and CEO Peter Chernin. And on May 6, Cablevision CEO James Dolan and his former chief operating officer — Charter CEO Tom Rutledge — are scheduled to be part of a panel discussion that includes Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries and Cox president Patrick Esser.

Unheard of in past shows, now many sessions will be led by competitors like Dish Network’s over-the-top service Sling TV (president Roger Lynch will participate in an OTT panel) and AT&T (Eric Small, vice president of AT&T’s Project LightGig, will participate on a high-speed data panel).

The most noticeable change for most attendees will be in the physical layout to the show floor. Gone is the traditional grid in favor of a cityscape plan with avenues and boulevards. NCTA vice president of industry affairs Mark Bell said the layout includes five themed intersections — TV Everywhere, Streaming Video, Games & Immersive Entertainment, Navigation and the Internet of Things — with about 50 companies located nearby that are involved in each of the business segments.

The intersection areas were created as places where attendees could explore the different showcases or themes, and that would include some companies you wouldn’t expect to be at a cable show, like Dish Network’s Sling TV over-the-top service, online video provider Vimeo, consumer electronics companies and video game manufacturers.

Bell added that Imagine Park, located in the center of the INTX Marketplace and dedicated to all things technology, also will serve as a meeting place for attendees. Imagine Park will host about a dozen shows this year, including fresh-from-the-lab strategies and demos. It also will be the locale for the finals of the INTXHACKS, an apps development challenge sponsored by Comcast, NBCUniversal and Gracenote.

About 260 exhibitors have registered for the show so far, York said — roughly the same as last year. She added that she expects attendee numbers to remain stable at around 10,000.